Description Deep Dive | a Writing the Other Intensive

Description Deep Dive class

When: February 10 – 25, 2018
Where: Online — Available everywhere and at your own pace
Price: $200
Register Now

Creating inclusive fiction with characters that come from different genders, backgrounds, races, and abilities is important. But when writers set out to do so, they sometimes grow anxious about how to describe and depict people who don’t fit the dominant paradigm.

How does one describe skin tone without using food metaphors or facial features without falling back on problematic cliches? Are you unwittingly using words that reveal unconscious bias?  Should you use person-first or identity-first language? 

In this 2 week craft-focused class, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford will guide you through this aspect of writing inclusive fiction through lectures, hands-on exercises, and feedback. At the end of class you’ll have a wealth of resources for further study and practice.

Attending Class, Schedule, Time Commitment

Instruction begins Saturday, February 10 and ends Sunday, February 25, 2018. The course does not have set meeting times. You can access class material and discussion and participate in class at any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. All class discussion will take place in a private online forum and all class work is done on Google Drive. 

Because this is an intensive course, you’ll be given lectures to read, homework to complete, or exercises to evaluate each day with discussions relating to the topics ongoing throughout the week. Students should expect to spend 2 hours per day on discussion and homework, though they can access the class on their own schedule. Homework assignments will be 10 to 20 minutes in length.


The class costs $200 (no extra fees)

Available Spots and Scholarship Opportunities

This class is capped at 20 students.

If the class sells out there will be a waiting list. Add yourself to it as there are often students who have to drop.

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the class, we have Pay What You Can Afford enrollment. Under this plan you can pay any amount, but we do request that you pay at least $30. To register, please email with the amount that you can afford (you may also split this into two or more payments). 

There are 5 spots available for Sentient Squid Scholarship recipients

If you do not have the financial means to take this class and feel that you will benefit from it, we encourage you to apply. We have a broad definition of financial need that ranges from writers who do not have the money at all to writers who have the funds but can’t afford to use them for a writing class. Please don’t hesitate to apply wherever you exist on that spectrum. (Still not sure whether you should apply? Read this post.) We’ve set aside two scholarship spots specifically for students who identify as POC or Native, though we do not limit the number of scholarships we’ll give to POC or Native applicants.

To apply, send an email to with the subject WtO Description Scholarship Applicant, and include in the body:

  • A brief (300 or fewer words) statement of financial need
  • A brief (500 or fewer words) description of a work or works in progress that you hope the class will help you write.
  • A writing sample of 1000 or fewer words. This can be an excerpt from a longer work or flash fiction, from something published or unpublished, as long as it represents what you feel is your best work.
  • If you identify as a Person of Color, Native American, or First Nations, you may indicate that if you wish (it’s not a requirement).

Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific February 1. We will notify all applicants of their standing on February 5. If you have any questions, please use our contact form to ask!

Class Text

Before class, please purchase and read Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl

Class Requirements

You need an interest in writing, but you do not need to have published anything yet.

You must have a Google account to participate in this class. All classwork is submitted via a private Google Drive folder. The class mailing list runs on Google groups. We will send you links to access the Drive folder a week before class starts.

All students must be active participants in class. There will be lectures as well as exercises and Q&A. Throughout class we will use your fiction for exercises and homework.

Refund Policy

If you find that you need to drop the class, you may do so by contacting our GMail or emailing via the website.

If you drop by January 19th, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop by January 26th, you will receive an 80% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop by February 2nd, you will receive an 40% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop on February 3rd or after you will not have your registration fee refunded as it will be extremely hard for a student to fill your space. However, you will be able to enroll in a future class for a discount.

Register Below

If the class sells out before you have a chance to register, there is a waiting list option. We do sometimes have students drop, so please add yourself. Waiting list students also get offered spots in upcoming classes before everyone else.